SERBIA: severe flooding cause high losses, but insurers' exposure remains low

25 June 2020 — Daniela GHETU
"Only two or three percent of households in Serbia are insured against floods, and property insurance has less than 10 percent of households", said the general secretary of the Insurers Association of Serbia, Dusko JOVANOVIC, quoted by

The household and agricultural insurance topics were brought into the limelight again by the floods that are currently affecting Serbia, as well as other extended regions in the Central and Eastern Europe. Torrential rain and flooding in Serbia and Bosnia forced authorities to declare a state of emergency on Tuesday, 23 June, as swollen rivers damaged bridges, roads and power lines. An emergency situation was declared in 12 municipalities in the country's west and southwest.

According to the public television station RTS as of 23 June, around 700 houses were flooded in western and central Serbia. Rivers have also burst their banks and there are increasing concerns over the possibility of landslides. Large areas of agricultural land were also affected. "2,000 to 3,000 hectares of potatoes, corn, vegetable gardens and meadows used to feed livestock have been flooded," said the president of the Association of Raspberry and Blackberry Producers in Serbia, Dobrivoje Radovic for the Serbian press. "This damage in the Moravica valley will be felt by the whole of Serbia, because the entire raspberry plantations were destroyed. The export of raspberries usually generated about 230 million euro annually in revenue," Radovic said. Overall, the current floods are reminding the dramatic situation of 2014, when Serbia experienced an episode of severe floods that have causes losses estimated to about 2% of the national GDP.

It is worth noting in this context that according to Insurers Association of Serbia data only about 25 - 30% of the insurance policies in Serbia has additional flood insurance. On the agricultural segment, the situation is somewhat better thanks to the state subsidies for purchasing insurance. The state subsidy is of 40%, but for five districts with high exposure to severe weather events the subsidy was raised to 75%.

According to XPRIMM statistical database, property insurance accounted for 18.72% of the total GWP in 2019, a lower share than in 2018 (19.5%). The fire insurance class, including household insurance and the Nat Cat risks coverage, had a 5.6% share in the market GWP portfolio, with premiums worth EUR 51.5 million, while paid claims amounted to EUR 36.24 million last year. The damages to property class has achieved last year GWP of EUR 119.5 million and paid claims of EUR 97 million.